4364.0.55.002 - Australian Health Survey: Health Service Usage and Health Related Actions, 2011-12  
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DIABETES MELLITUS

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic condition in which insulin, a hormone that controls blood glucose levels, is no longer produced or not produced in sufficient amounts by the body1.

In 2011-12, 4.0% of Australians (or around 875,000 people) reported having diabetes. More than half (54.0%) of people with diabetes had a parent or sibling who had also been told they have diabetes.

Of all people with diabetes, 87.5% had consulted a GP in the last 12 months for their condition, 25.6% had consulted a specialist and 39.7% had consulted an other type of health professional. The most common types of other health professionals consulted in the last 12 months were diabetes educators (18.7%), chiropodists/podiatrists (11.7%), dietitians/nutritionists (11.3%) and opticians/optometrists (10.4%). Proportionally, more people with diabetes had consulted a GP in the last 12 months for their condition than people with any of the other long-term health conditions published in this release (which ranged between 53.1% and 71.5%), and similarly, other types of health professionals (which ranged between 7.1% and 29.3%; see Health actions taken for specific long-term health conditions).

Around 1 in 10 (9.6%) diabetics who were employed or studying/at school took time off work or study/school in the last 12 months due to their diabetes.

A common test to check for the presence of diabetes and whether a person's diabetes is being managed is the HbA1C test. This measures the amount of glucose in the blood that binds to the haemoglobin present in red blood cells. In 2011-12, three-quarters (74.5%) of all people with diabetes had had an HbA1C test in the last 12 months. Further results on HbA1C testing will be available in Australian Health Survey: Biomedical Results for Chronic Diseases, 2011-12 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.004) scheduled for release on 5 August 2013.
    Regular testing of blood glucose levels is an important part of managing diabetes. Of all people with diabetes, 41.0% reported testing their blood glucose levels every day, while a further 21.0% tested their blood glucose at least once a week. Around 1 in 10 (10.8%) reported checking their feet every day.

    If poorly managed, diabetes can result in a range of complications, such as retinopathy (eye problems) and peripheral vascular disease (feet problems). Of people with diabetes, 10.9% reported having a sight problem caused by their condition.

    Excluding the use of medications, the most common actions people with diabetes took in the last 2 weeks were following a changed eating pattern/diet (65.9%), exercising on most days (29.6%) and losing weight (16.6%).

    Graph Image for All persons with diabetes - Actions taken for diabetes in last 2 weeks, 2011-12


    Almost three-quarters (73.5%) of all people with diabetes reported taking some type of diabetes medication in the last 2 weeks. The most common diabetes medications taken by people with diabetes were metformin (53.0%), insulin and analogues (22.8%), and gliclazide (20.0%).

    For more information see Table 9: Diabetes mellitus: Actions and medications taken and Australian Health Survey: First Results, 2011-12 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.001).

    1. Diabetes Australia, Sept 2011, What is Diabetes?, <http://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/en/Understanding-Diabetes/What-is-Diabetes/>, Last accessed 22/03/2013.

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